Archive for the ‘Web Services’ Category
LPS uses WordPress for teacher websites, many school building websites and in a growing list of other situations. The folks at WordPress work hard to produce quality mobile applications for every mobile operating system (iOS, Android, etc.) so that you can easily add posts and pictures, or manage comments from your phone or tablet.
Learn more about the WordPress mobile applications available for your phone or tablet.
This video should help you get your LPS site ready for the remote application and walk you through the proper settings to make a good connection!
Setup the WordPress mobile application with LPS websites
STEP ONE: Setup your LPS site for remote access
To enable your LPS website(s) to be able to be remotely updated, you will need to login to each one of your sites and make a simple change.
- Go to the SETTINGS menu on the left side of the page and choose the WRITING sub-menu.
- On the WRITING settings, check the box labeled XML-RPC
- Click SAVE.
STEP TWO: Connect your WordPress mobile application
- Launch your mobile app and choose to “Add Self-Hosted Blog”
- Enter the URL as follows, using your own LPS username after the final slashURL: http://wp/lps/org/username
- Enter your LPS username and password in the following two fields
UPDATED AUGUST 2015
Over the past few years, LPS employees have begun to explore the powerful tools within the LPS Google Apps suite. Teachers and Administrators have observed many new opportunities to more efficiently collect, reference and analyze information in this suite, more so than in any tool previously available to all staff. With that in mind many have considered, or have even begun putting together Google forms, collaborative spreadsheets, Google Classrooms and other documents that are used in formative assessment or to aggregate and put form to many anecdotal records that have always existed. PLC work has also begun to adopt these ideas and many teams are collecting data that is explicitly tied to individual students, but analyzed in aggregate.
As Educators we all recognize the importance of protecting the students and families we serve by maintaining data security at every possible juncture. Realizing the “cloud” based nature of the LPS Google Docs is a point of concern for everyone. Since there is no local copy of these files on our computers, where does the data ultimately exist – and who has access to it? These questions have given us a justified pause.
The tools that we refer to generically as “Google Docs” exist in an environment that Google refers to as its “Google Apps for Education.” These tools are held separate from the tool set available to businesses or the general public. Only verified educational institutions can participate in the “Apps for Education” program. In LPS this is our CLASS.LPS.ORG environment.
Keeping the Education version of these apps separate from the publicly available versions allows Google to maintain different licensing, terms of service, and privacy standards than apply to the business or general public’s tools. To that end, Google provides some guidance and clarification on these topics.
Google works to be as transparent about security issues as possible. Some common questions and concerns are specifically addressed below, but the following resources will allow you to look deeper into these issues on your own if you are so inclined.
CAUTION: Be aware of your audience when sharing
The weakest part of any secure digital environment is the human beings using it. By default every Google Doc is private to the creator. LPS staff members can choose to share documents with other staff members, students, or with the public (outside of class.lps.org.) Teachers should be vigilant about NOT sharing any sensitive student information with students or the public.
Important Questions to Consider
Which Google Products does this apply to?
According to the Terms of Service, this applies to Google Apps for Education Core Services (Mail, Calendar, Talk/Hangouts, Drive, Sites, and Contacts), and Google Classroom.
Who owns the content produced in Google Apps for Education?
The Google Apps Terms of Service contractually ensures that your institution (students, faculty, and staff) are the sole owners of their data. Your Apps content belongs to your school, or individual users at your school. Not Google.
Who can see our content?
Google does not look at your content. Google employees will only access content that you store on Apps when an administrator from LPS grants Google employees explicit permission to do so for troubleshooting.
Who is our content shared with?
Google does not share your content. Google does not share personal information with advertisers or other 3rd parties without your consent.
Google complies with applicable US privacy law, and the Google Apps Terms of Service specifically details obligations and compliance with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations.
Are Google Apps for Education FERPA compliant?
The Terms of Service for Google Apps for Education specifically address this question as follows:
The parties acknowledge that (a) Customer Data may include personally identifiable information from education records that are subject to FERPA (“FERPA Records”); and (b) to the extent that Customer Data includes FERPA Records, Google will be considered a “School Official” (as that term is used in FERPA and its implementing regulations) and will comply with FERPA.
Where is content stored?
Your data is stored in Google’s network of data centers. Google maintains a number of geographically distributed data centers, the locations of which are kept discreet for security purposes. Access to data centers is very limited to only authorized select Google employees personnel.
Is content safe from others when it is running on the same servers?
Yes. All user accounts are protected via virtual lock and key that ensures that one user cannot see another user’s data. This is similar to how customer data is segmented in other shared infrastructures such as online banking applications.
Google Apps has received a satisfactory SSAE 16 Type II audit. This means that an independent auditor has examined the controls protecting the data in Google Apps (including logical security, privacy, Data Center security, etc) and provided reasonable assurance that these controls are in place and operating effectively.
In order for the district to receive ERate funding that reduces the cost of our Internet access by by a large percentage, Federal regulations require compliance with guidelines provided in the ‘Children’s Internet Protection Act’ [47 U.S.C. § 254], also known as CIPA. CIPA guidelines require the restriction of access to specific types of web content.
Based upon CIPA guidelines, LPS employs a web content filter that blocks access to the following categories of web pages for all users:
- Anonymous Proxies (Sites that allow for circumventing of web filters)
Click to see a larger version of this diagram.
Role Based Authentication
Example of the “block page.”
While you are on the LPS network if you attempt to load a web page that is restricted for students, you may notice a login & password field appear on the block page. LPS employees may enter their LPS credentials to access any web page not contained in the CIPA block list. This is known as “Role Based Authentication” and respects an educator’s right to make professional decisions about the content accessed.
By logging in with your LPS username and password to access content that is blocked from student view, you are offering a digital “signature” that you accept responsibility for the content you are accessing and acknowledge the content is consistent with the educational mission of Lincoln Public Schools. This is neither a “bypass” nor “override” of the filter but, rather, it is access granted to adult educators and this access should not be used to provision access to students.
When you login to the filter a small pop-up window will appear and as long as this window is present, you are able to access restricted content. All of the URLs (web addresses) accessed while this pop-up window is open are logged in the filter software.
Example of the authorization window.
It is not appropriate, and would be a direct violation of LPS Regulations, for teachers or other employees to either log in to the filter and allow students to gain access to content that would otherwise be restricted, or give students your user name and password for this purpose. LPS Instructional Policy 6441 specifically states that disciplinary action (including expulsion or dismissal) may result from inappropriate use of computer technology or networks.
If you have any questions about role based access or filtering policies in LPS please contact
Kirk Langer, Chief Technology Officer [firstname.lastname@example.org].
If you need to have a site allowed or blocked in your building, please submit a Helpdesk Ticket and it will be redirected to:
Rob Smith, Application Administrator [email@example.com].
Many LPS teachers are unaware that our school district subscribes to a lengthy list of resources that puts rich digital content at your fingertips. To be clear, these are not your average web pages. These are web based databases of content produced by professional organizations geared towards K-12 classrooms.
To access the logins & passwords for the LPS Digital Content Resources, please reference these pages:
Please check with your building’s Media Specialist or Library Media Services web page for more information.
Per our legal agreement with these companies, please do not share the user names or passwords with anyone who is not enrolled in or employed by Lincoln Public Schools.
Sometimes, a video is the best way to communicate a thought or idea. Unfortunately, a video’s file size is often much, much larger than you would ever want to upload to WordPress. This leaves you with two options:
- Put the video in DocuShare and make a link to it from WordPress.
When visitors want to see the video, they click the link and their web browser will load the video then play it. If the video is short, this is a good/fast/solid option. This strategy lacks in two main areas though; if the video is long it can be difficult to load up and view from your web browser, and it lacks the visual appeal of seeing the video within the context of the page. You might want to use this method in situations where…
- You are not the copyright holder for the video
- Only LPS students or staff should be able to view the video
- You want the visitors to be able to download the video to their own computer
- Embed a web friendly version of the video into the web page itself.
In this situation the video still does not live in WordPress, but it appears to visitors that the video is part of the page content, and it is viewed in a video player without leaving the page. This is the expected behavior for a visitor who has ever used YouTube or other video sites. You might want to use this method in situations where…
- You video is long and visitors need to see that the content is loading, or need to be able to control playback
- You are the copyright holder for the video
- You desire a more engaging display of your content
Embedding a video requires three basic steps:
- Preparing the video to be web friendly
- Uploading the video to an appropriate LPS server
- Pasting some code into your WordPress page
1) Preparing Your Videos
First, consider the size (width x height) of your video. Will it play within the LPS web page you intend it for? Depending upon the template you are dealing with, you should aim to have the width of your video be less than 700 pixels if the page has no sidebar, or 450 pixels if the page does have a sidebar.
Altering the dimensions of a video is best done in the original video creation software like iMovie (Mac) or Adobe Premiere Elements (PC) or perhaps in a compressing software like Miro Video Converter.
Then, for your videos to play in all web browsers, you will need to convert it into two different file types. One type will play well in Safari (MP4/H.264), the other will play well on Firefox (WebM/Vp8). (More information on this topic.)
NOTE: Don’t worry – visitors will not see two videos, their computer will select the appropriate version for them to see when they click play.
You can accomplish resizing and format conversion in many tools. Use one you feel comfortable with, The easiest we have encountered is Miro Video Converter. It is FREE and available for Mac and Windows.
One you have launched Miro Video Converter there are really only three steps:
- Drag the video onto the Miro window
- Select an appropriate device or format from the drop down menu. (Use the two situations below to guide you in this step.) Click “Convert”.
- Repeat for the second video type.
If your video needs to be both resized and converted
- If your video is too wide for the web page and needs to be shrunk, begin by dragging the video onto the Miro window. From the Device/Format menu select either “iPod Touch 4” to make the video 640 pixels wide or “iPod Classic” to make it 320 pixels wide. Conveniently, this also converts it to MP4 which is one of the two formats you will need.
- Drag the newly shrunken MP4 version of your video right back onto Miro Video Converter again. This time select “WebM (vp8)” from the Other Formats at the bottom of the list. This will convert it to the second format you need.
If your video only needs to be converted
- Drag your video onto the Miro window. From the Device/Format menu select “MP4” from the formats at the bottom of the list. Press the “Convert” button.
- Drag the video right back onto Miro Video Converter again. This time select “WebM (vp8)” from the formats at the bottom of the list. Press “Convert” again. This will convert it to the second format you need.
2) Uploading the Videos
LPS has a server specifically for hosting & serving videos in your web pages. To use it, log in here:
NOTE: DO NOT embed videos to which you are not the copyright holder! If you did not create the video yourself, there is a very good chance that you cannot legally embed them in the public view. If you have an instructional need for students to access the video, consider placing the video in Student DocuShare and linking to it from your website. This makes it available only to authenticated LPS students & staff.
Follow the instructions on this page to upload the MP4 and WebM videos you created a moment ago.
If you want a “Poster Image” (an optional feature) feel free to download & use this “LPS-TV” poster available in various sizes. Otherwise, create your own.
When you have completed the upload of your videos, you will be provided a box full of code. This is HTML code that should be used to embed these newly uploaded videos into your LPS web page.
Select the code and COPY it.
3) Paste that Code
- Login to your WordPress site (or any other LPS web site tool).
- Open (edit) the appropriate Page or Post.
- In the top right corner of the editor, you should see a tab that lets you switch between editing in “Visual” or “HTML” modes. Select HTML.
- In the body of the web page, place your cursor where the video belongs. PASTE the code you copied from LPS Ember.
- “Publish” or “Update” your WordPress page and preview the video.
Remember that when you return to WordPress you will still be shown the HTML tab, which will probably not behave as you’d like. Simply return to the tabs and select “Visual” again to return to normal WordPress use.
Did something not work?
If you run into difficulty during this process, don’t be dismayed. Converting video formats and embedding them into web sites is tricky business at times. Feel free to submit a Help Desk ticket in the category Software / LPS Web Services / WordPress.
You can also post a question or read the ones posted by others in our discussion forum.
This page has been deprecated and redirected. Now located here: http://home.lps.org/training/wordpress-2
Keep it small
Corporations and large non-profits have teams dedicated to planning and managing their web sites. Even with that committment they can find that keeping the content they want online organized and usable to be daunting. Given that the average school web master might spend an hour a week on the web site, expectations must be in line with what is realistic.
A single page that has up to date contact and event information along with some basic information about the school is far more useful and practical than 30 pages of content that are not maintained well. Consider what must be on your web site and think twice (or thrice) about anything else that you put up.
Within a school building there may be multiple dress codes. General staff may be able to wear a smart-casual dress code while administrators conform to more business-casual dress code.
Similarly, while teacher web sites may have pretty loose standards and often be pretty ornate, the school web site is an extension of the school office and should be much more restrained. It is not a school web site’s job to entertain and please but rather to inform and establish or maintain credibility.
If you find yourself posting more than a page or two, you will likely find that no one person can adequately care for the site. Identify the people in your organization that have an interest in the content on your web site and enlist them in keeping it up to date. If folks are only responsible for keeping a page or two of content that they care about up to date, things will be maintained more faithfully.
Look for ways to extend what is already being done onto the web
If you already have mechanisms in place for collecting stuff for a weekly newsletter, consider how that can simply be expanded into posting that information online. If somebody is already maintaining a calendar of events for the school, see if that person can maintain the online calendar at the same time. Who updates the marquee on the front lawn? That would be great information to be displayed simlarly on the web site.
Look for ways that your school already communicates and let the web site be an aggregation of those methods.
Identify your audience
Far too often, things get posted on web sites with no real consideration of why it is being put online or who for. Identifying who you are speaking to with your web site can help you focus your message and speak clearly to those you are addressing.
Here is a methodology I use in establishing my audience.
First, what are the general types of folks that might visit my site? You might start inside your building and consider your staff and students. Outside of the building your audience may include parents, community members and families that are potentially moving into the area.
Once this has been established, you need to consider how you will sculpt your web site to fit these audiences. I like to imagine how members of each of these groups would be greeted at the front door of the school. Who would pass by with only a smile knowing that they knew what they were after and were they were going and who would be stopped, talked to and shown to the office for a more formal welcome? With this in mind it makes it pretty easy to craft the front page with a message that is for those people that are least familiar with your school. The front page becomes a place that establishes the creditiblity and message of your school and not necessarily the one-stop shop that it often becomes on web sites where the natural inclination with all things important is to ‘put it on the front page’. Off of your front page, you can create areas for other groups to find what they are after. Create a page for parents and another for students. Create a place for staff information (or choose to keep internal matters off the site altogether and put them in your school section of Docushare).
Now, when you are putting something on a page of your site, you can ask yourself “is this the audience that I’m trying to reach?”
Post what is necessary, save what isn’t
When web sites aren’t updated regularly and information gets old, site maintainers can start to get desparate and just start posting anything. With your audience in mind, put yourself in their shoes (or ask them!) what information they are after. Focus on putting content online that is really useful to and welcomed by the audiences you are addressing.
If you aren’t sure why you are putting it online, then don’t. Also, be concise in what you put online. You might have video and 100 photos from a recent event. You could spend a day formatting that content in a way that was satisfactory to you and the results may not be much more effective than if you had chosen one great photo and put it up with some good text.
Be what people expect
I’m sure you’ve been to a web site where you couldn’t find anything you were after. You went to the web site with expectations of what you would find and you were disappointed when they were not met. What do people expect when they come to your web site? Are they just looking for a phone number to call your office? Are they looking for your address because they need to drive there or are just wondering where your school is? Are they wanting to email one of your staff? These are all things that are reasonable to assume that somebody visiting a school site are interested in. It can be very frustrating then for a visitor when they have to wade through a page of distracting colors, animations and information they have no interest in to get something that should be very easy.
Consider what is expected by visitors of your site and do those things very well. Everything else is either bonus or a distraction.
Nobody is reaching out of the computer screen to give a handshake and a smile to the person visiting. Use text that greets, comforts and directs people that are new to your site. “Welcome”, “Please” and “Thank You” have their place on web sites too.
What is iSite?
iSite is server space dedicated to the hosting of web accessible content. iSite is only available for LPS staff. While there are many instances in which a service like iSite can be useful, the primary use is for situations in which you might have a folder exported from an application which contains a website that you’d like to publish. You may also find a desire for this service if you are looking for a place to publish html documents you have written on your own.
If you have additional questions, please contact Brian Fitzgerald at firstname.lastname@example.org
Using any FTP client…
- Server: isite.lps.org
- Login: <<your lps username>>
- Password: <<your lps password>>
Viewing your pages on the web
- http://isite.lps.org/<<your lps username>>/
IF your username is jdoe and you upload a file called “myfile.html”, then the address to that file will be http://isite.lps.org/jdoe/myfile.html
If you upload a file called my “myfile.html” inside of a folder called “myfolder” to your isite, your address will be http://isite.lps.org/jdoe/myfolder/myfile.html